The Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) in KwaZulu-Natal bestowed an Employer Excellence award on Pilot Crushtec for the practical support it gives to engineering students.
The award was accepted at an MUT awards dinner at Durban’s International Conference Centre last year, according to Tania Tarr, director of human resources and organisational development at Pilot Crushtec. It was in recognition of the many MUT students who had spent time at Pilot Crushtec to fulfil the practical requirements of their National Diploma.
“For over a dozen years, we have brought mechanical and electrical engineering students into our facilities from Universities of Technology around South Africa,” says Tarr. “We have made it a priority in our HR strategy, as these practical phases of the diploma are compulsory – so students cannot graduate without them.”
The company has had almost 70 students pass through their practical phases at its Jet Park facilities in Gauteng over the past 13 years. The diplomas require them to complete one practical phase over six months in a workshop environment. This phase involves mainly hands-on work that they do independently. There is also a requirement for a second practical phase that students must undertake in an engineering design environment. This typically needs more personal interaction between Pilot Crushtec people and the students.
She explains that the programme plays an important role in developing Pilot Crushtec’s talent pipeline, and is also a deliberate effort to foster skills development and transformation in the engineering and mining sector as a whole.
“By the time these engineering students are required to undergo the practical phases, they have invested themselves completely in their academic journey,” says Tarr. “It is tragic to see so many of them struggling to find placement at a company to complete these compulsory stages – without which they cannot graduate.”
About 10 of the best graduates were permanently employed by Pilot Crushtec, having proved themselves at a stage when the company was looking to fill specific positions. She mentions that one of the graduates even went on to become best salesman of the year.
“A good indication of the quality of these graduates and our nurturing process is that some find their way into our demanding Support Link customer service area,” she says. “This can only be achieved after developing an in-depth understanding of our products’ mechanics, electronics, performance and maintenance.”
She highlights the importance of working experience to add real value to students’ theoretical training. This includes building the right attitudes and approaches in the workplace, alongside the practical skills. Pilot Crushtec engages its whole team to guide, train and support graduates during their practical phases.
“As and when we have the requirement, we can offer employment to the most outstanding graduates,” she concludes. “This ensures that we sustain our legendary after-sales service while helping create a productive future for the leaders of tomorrow.”